'Empire' star Jussie Smollett charged in alleged racist attack case

Chicago PD named Smollett a suspect in an ongoing criminal investigation for filing a false report after weeks of investigating his claims that two men attacked him and tied a rope around his neck.
7:29 | 02/21/19

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Transcript for 'Empire' star Jussie Smollett charged in alleged racist attack case
showing the brothers accused of attacking jussie smollett in a hate crime buying supplies in what they claim was a staged attack. Did you guys get any money from jussie at this point? They did. Was it $3500? It's not fitting the narrative out there right now. Reporter: This as police say tonight smollett is a suspect and now charged with a felony for filing a false police report. It's taken three weeks full of shocking twists and turns for smollett's story to apparently fall apart. It became clear over the last few weeks that the police had questions about his story. And, as time passed, it became clearer and clearer that they simply didn't believe him. Reporter: That new store surveillance video showing the brothers standing at the counter buying items allegedly used in the attack, including black masks and a red hat. They gave hours of testimony to a grand jury. When I say that the police spent countless man hours trying to piece this together, I mean that. I absolutely mean that. When I say that my clients spent countless hours getting their story out there to the police so that they could do their work. Are they expecting charges? On who? On, against them, the two gentleman you represent? At this time, no. Because they're not guilty of anything. Jussie smollett says they're lying, what do you say to that? I think jussie smollett should come clear, because the truth will set him free. What truth will set him free? I think jussie's conscience is probably not letting him sleep right now. I think if prosecutors and the police believe that they're being fully cooperative, they won't be charged with anything. Reporter: Three weeks ago, smollett said he was walking home from a subway restaurant when he was attacked, describing that moment to ABC news. I was crossing the intersection. I heard "Empire." And I don't answer to empire. I kept walking and then I heard empire , Mr. And I said what did you say to me? And I turned around and saw the attacker masked. And he said "This Maga country" punched me right in the face. So I punched the Right back. We started tussling. There was another person kicking me in my back. And then it just stopped. And they ran off. It felt like minutes, but it probably was like 30 seconds, honestly. I can't tell you honestly. I noticed the rope around my neck and I started screaming, there's a rope around my neck. They put a Rope around neck. Reporter: Authorities identified the men and arrested them at o'hare. They knew smollett, one even appeared as an extra on "Empire." If there's any justice we'll have that conversation. Reporter: Smollett stars on the show as an openly-gay singer. Smollett's attorney reacted to the identity of the two, acknowledging that the actor knew them and acknowledging that he did some training with them. But he maintains the attack was real and the 36-year-old was a victim. It's the truth. Reporter: They said publicly they were investigating whether the attack happened at all, after days of pressing smollett for a followup interview, today police issued this stark warning. We got information. And that's what we want to run by him. If the opportunity is not taken to come in, we're going to go with other methods. At the same time, a grand jury was hearing testimony. In the scheme of crimes, it's not one of the most serious on the books. As a result, what they're saying is, look, turn yourself in. Let's deal with the arrest. You're going to get out. And then we're going to go from there. Reporter: Every angle of the case remains under active investigation, including the letter sent to smollett prior to the alleged crime. It had a stickigure hanging from a tree with a gun pointed at it. And the return address, there was no return address but it said in big red caps, Maga. Reporter: Sources confirm that the FBI is into whether he sent the letter to himself. He could face a charge if it turns out they believe he sent that threatening letter in the mail to himself. But, for now, this is a state charge. Reporter: These latest developments creating questions on how this will affect smollett's role on his hit show. 20th century fox television and fox entertainment stating jussie smollett continues to be a consummate professional on set and as we have previously state, he is not being written out of the show. Smollett has allegedly tangled with the law in the past. He was accused of impersonating his brother by using his name during a traffic stop when he was suspected of driving under the influence. He reportedly pleaded no contest to reduced charges and completed an alcohol treatment program. Now more than a decade later he is charged with a much more serious offense and Chicago police say detectives have been in touch with his legal team to negotiate a respectful surrender. It's basically filing a false police report. If you call and reach out to the police and file a report, knowing that it's not true, that's a felony in the state of Illinois, punishable by up to three years in prison. Reporter: Tonight smollett's legal team putting out a statement saying, quote, like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly in a case like this one where information true and false has been leaked. We plan to launch an investigation and mount an aggressive defense. I will never be the man this did not happen to. I am forever changed. Reporter: A bond hearing has been scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. Eva pilgrim in Chicago. Our thanks to Eva pilgrim who will have the latest on gma tomorrow.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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